Man convicted in stray-bullet killing of Puerto Rican Olympian’s mom in her Connecticut home

22 July 2023

A Connecticut man has been convicted of murder in the stray-bullet killing of the mother of a two-time Olympian rifle shooter from Puerto Rico.

A jury found Franklin Robinson, 40, guilty Friday in the death of Mabel Martinez Antongiorgi. The 56-year-old was in her sewing and crafts room in Waterbury when a bullet flew through a wall and hit her in the head on April 9, 2022.

Martinez Antongiorgi’s daughter, Yarimar Mercado Martinez, competed for the family’s native Puerto Rico at the 2016 and pandemic-delayed 2020 Games. The athlete was in Brazil for a competition when her mother was killed.

A message seeking comment was sent to her Saturday. At the time of her mother’s death, she anguished in social media posts that she “couldn’t even say goodbye.”

“Why you? Why this way? You were just sitting in your little house sewing, as you always did,” she wrote.

According to trial testimony, a jealous Robinson was gunning for a man who had said hello to Robinson’s girlfriend on an earlier day. After quarreling with the man and some of his friends, Robinson lined up a couple of people he knew to help him go after the man.

The three shot up a car parked on Martinez Antongiorgi’s street, thinking the man was inside it, according to testimony. Another bystander was wounded but survived.

Robinson didn’t fire the fatal bullet, but he was charged with murder under legal principles that apply to conspirators. Prosecutors portrayed him as leading a deadly scheme by targeting the intended victim and recruiting help.

His defense questioned the credibility of a key witness: Robinson’s now-former girlfriend, Emily Dyer.

“The case boiled down to whether or not the jury believed Emily Dyer, and it is clear that they did,” one of Robinson’s attorneys, attorneys Donald Meehan, told the Republican American of Waterbury.

Supervisory Assistant State’s Attorney Don Therkildsen said Martinez Antongiorgi and her family “were able to receive justice,” crediting police.

Robinson faces sentencing Nov. 1.

Martinez Antongiorgi and her husband of over 30 years, John Luis Mercado, moved to Waterbury from Puerto Rico a few years after the U.S. territory endured 2017’s devastating Hurricane Maria. At the time of her death, they had set a date to renew their wedding vows, their daughter wrote at the time.

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